Mother, Come Home

Paul Hornschemeier, Author, Thomas Tennant, Introduction by . Dark Horse $14.95 (128p) ISBN 978-1-59307-037-3

Hornschemeier's Forlorn Funnies comics series has been something of an underground hit in art-comics circles. His first book collection is a grimly melancholic domestic tragedy, written from the point of view of a young boy named Thomas who's dealing with the death of his mother by retreating deep into a fantasy world while his father gradually collapses into insanity. Hornschemeier has been compared to Chris Ware, and while the two cartoonists have a few obvious points of similarity—a fondness for flat, muted colors, relentless depressiveness and understated drawing that captures the solidity of objects with a few lines—Hornschemeier has a unique sense of formal invention and a gift for subtleties of facial expressions. The metaphor that drives this work is symbolic logic, both the philosophical kind that obsesses the father and ultimately destroys him, and the logic that Thomas imposes on the baffling world by turning everything into simple symbols, like the lion mask he wears to play at being powerful. Hornschemeier renders Thomas's imaginary reinterpretations of his real life in a different style from the rest of the book: childlike single-line drawings, representing everyone as animals. And the metafictional conceit that frames the book doesn't fully come into focus until the final page. The plot is a real three-hanky weeper, but Hornschemeier leverages some of its heaviness into bittersweet absurdity. He's a talent to watch. (Nov. 2003)

Reviewed on: 02/16/2004
Release date: 02/01/2004
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